Over the weekend, Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chair of the Senate Finance Committee, announced that pharmaceutical companies had agreed to a deal as part of an overall health care reform package, where the companies will provide, as Baucus put it, "affordable prices on prescription drugs when Medicare benefits don't cover the cost of prescriptions," as well as kicking in some money for health care reform efforts.
"The agreement reached today to lower prescription drug costs for seniors will be an important part of the legislation I expect to sign into law in December," President Obama said in paper statement released over the weekend. "This is a tangible example of the type of reform that will lower costs while assuring quality health care for every American."
The plans would cut in half the prescription drug expenses of those who fall into the Part D coverage gap, called the doughnut hole, and was heralded by the AARP.
At noon today, President Obama will appear with Barry Rand, the CEO of AARP, to formally announce the $80 billion deal.
But the announcement comes during an awkward time for those pushing for health care reform, with recent analyses from the Congressional Budget Office of draft versions of leading Senate health care bills questioning the cost effectiveness of the plans, estimated to cost between $1 and $1.6 trillion over 10 years.
Also today, President Obama will sign the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act, which will allow the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco products, banning candy flavorings and labels such as ‘low tar’ and ‘light.'
The president is expected to talk about his difficulty in kicking the habit.